Who wants to play hooky with us down in the islands next weekend?
Japan’s Miyako Islands (宮古列島) are located 300 kilometers (186 miles) southwest of Okinawa Island in Okinawa Prefecture. Miyako Island is the largest and most populous of the group, with 46,000 inhabitants calling it home in 2010. Longtime readers of our site may also recognize its name from the annual Paantu Festival held there, which leaves children effectively traumatized in exchange for granting them good luck (no joke).
Five other populated islands clustered around Miyako Island are also administered by the City of Miyako, while the two remaining islands in the vicinity, Minna Island and Tarama Island, are administered by Tarama Village.
▼ For those of you who like maps, you may want to brush up
on your Miyako Islands geography before reading on.
While it’s undeniable that the scenery almost anywhere in Okinawa Prefecture is breathtaking, today we’d like to highlight the views from three bridges that connect Miyako Island with Ikema Island, Kurima Island, and Irabu Island respectively. Ready to be transported to an almost other world?
1. Ikema Bridge (池間大橋)
Let’s begin with something that’s extremely, undeniably, electrifyingly blue:
Yes, that was ocean water, and not a melting neon-blue Popsicle.
The Ikema Bridge, which is 1,425 meters (4,675 feet) long, was completed in 1992, making it the oldest of the three bridges in this post. As the relatively small Ikema Island is just northwest of Miyako Island, the bridge offers stunning views of the ocean between the two land masses.
▼ Ikema Bridge is clearly visible in this aerial view.
2. Kurima Bridge (来間大橋)
The gracefully arching Kurima Bridge connects Miyako Island with Kurima Island to the southwest. Completed in 1995 and at 1,690 meters (5,545 feet) long, it’s distinct as being the longest farm road bridge in Japan (hey, the farmers have to commute somehow!). The sunlight scintillating on the crystal clear water is not something to be missed.
▼ Just don’t be surprised if you see something like this while driving along:
3. Irabu Bridge (伊良部大橋)
The third bridge we’re showcasing today is Irabu Bridge, which spans the sea between Miyako Island and Irabu Island. Irabu Island is the second largest of the Miyako Islands, and the second most populous as well, with approximately 5,100 inhabitants in 2010. Irabu Bridge is also the newest one on our list, having been completed only last year with construction costing a staggering 38 billion yen (US$357 million). It has earned the title of the longest non-toll bridge in all of Japan, measuring in at 3,540 meters (11,614 feet) long.
▼ Irabu Bridge is a particularly good spot from which to observe the coral reefs.
Is anyone now interested in jetting down to Okinawa with us in the near future? We’ll even let you pick which RocketNews24 staff member you’d like to accompany you (as long as you’e paying for the tickets and hotel)! As a last incentive, perhaps this picture of someone swimming with a sea turtle in the Miyako Islands will do the trick.